Adding stuff to a game months after release? That’s usually good news. Removing it a few weeks later? That tends to not go over as well.
Members of The Division 2’s community have been expressing confusion and aggravation since late last week following confirmation that the game’s Expedition area, which was released just last month, is being cycled out tomorrow.
A Ubisoft representative, meanwhile, has attempted to explain the temporary but controversial move, assuring players it will come back.
“We always envisioned Expeditions as a rotating experience that will be open for some time, close for a limited duration and become available again later,” community manager Giuseppe Dalicante said on the game’s subreddit, in a thread full of players questioning the benefit of the removal or saying it makes no sense. But, he added, the lack of a planned system for remixing the missions after the players completed them the first time caused the developers to remove them for a longer period of time. “We don’t want you to exhaust yourselves replaying an activity that currently does not offer the correct ingredients for replay-ability.”
[caption id="attachment_700110" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The Expedition missions have always shown a timer, but it wasn’t clear until late last week that they’d go away after the timer ended rather than simply start their unlock cycle again.[/caption]
The Expedition consists of the fictional Kenly College campus. It was added to the outskirts of the game’s Washington, DC map on 23 July for people who bought the game’s Year One Pass and on 30 July for those who did not. It is set across three areas—a library, a subway station and a student union—which have been gradually unlocked for players every week. Each area contains puzzles and combat challenges, all tied to the mystery of a missing convoy. Completing all three opens up a small fourth location that rewards players with an exotic rifle called The Diamondback, a particularly powerful weapon in a game that’s currently hurting for top-tier loot.
Part of the problem is the general controversy over any limited-time content added to a regularly updated game, as fans might fret over missing a Halloween event in Destiny or an elaborate Assassin’s Creed festival in Final Fantasy XV. But Division players on Reddit, Twitter and the game’s forum say they’ve don’t understand why the content would go away and have been caught by surprise by the move.
“So the expedition DLC is only temporary? And you waited until this post to tell anyone that?” wrote one user on the game’s official Ubisoft forum, referring to a post from the developers published Friday. “I’ve been holding off on playing them until my clan is all back from vacation. So now we won’t get to play at all. That is not great guys. Not great at all.”
In June, the game’s live content manager, Yannick Banchereau, walked me through the planned roll-out of the Expedition, saying that the staggered release was designed to focus players on one section at a time. “Wing one opens on the first week, then wing two opens and then wing three and then we’ll have a rotation that will continue,” he said. A system called Mastery would then modify each area to provide a greater challenge. “The idea is that we want to give people a clear moment where now is the moment to go back to that one and there is the Mastery unlock, so you should go back and try to do it again. And then the next one and then the next one.”
The Mastery system, however, was yanked from the release plan before the Expedition was added in late July. The developers said it wasn’t ready yet. What they didn’t say at the time was that the Expedition would therefore take an extended break after its first cycle. They dropped that news on Friday and tried to explain it today.
“Since the Mastery system was not ready for Episode 1, we had to make a decision between delaying Expeditions altogether or still open them for a full rotation to give all of you a taste of this experience,” Dalicante said in a forum message to players today. He added that “we would prefer to bring Expeditions back once the Mastery system is at the correct level of polish. We are sensitive to the discussions about the availability of the Diamondback in the meantime, however.”
This doesn’t help players who simply haven’t had a chance to play the Expedition for the first time, of course.
If there’s an upside, it’s that players will no longer have to hear the game’s mission-giver say, “Agent, pilot Torres is cleared for transport to Kenly College” every single time they log into the game, as has been the case for three weeks now.